You all read the the ‘Conflicting mindsets of C# vs. Java‘ weblog post right? And you all noticed that the guys running the Lucene.NET project on sourceforge closed up shop, took all their toys and went on home right? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that they’re related.
The way I see it, *in general* the .NET community conversation is dominated by talk about the latest and greatest that microsoft is putting out; there’s talk about MapPoint Location Server, SQL Server, Longhorn, ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio; all products of Redmond. The same group of Java developers are talking about JBoss, Hibernate, Struts and Eclipse: none of which came out of the Silicon Valley.
Malcolm’s mindset #1 says that .NET developers accept the tools and services that are provided them by Microsoft and I think for the most part this is true. You don’t see .NET developers spending their cycles on persistence layers, web application frameworks or caching solutions probably because Microsoft has provided Microsoft solutions for all these problems. But if it’s just providing tools, then why aren’t JSF, JDO and NetBeans dominating the javablogs conversations? Seriously, take a look at ASP.NET and JSF. They aren’t that different and yet ASP.NET is widely used in conjunction with Visual Studio while JSF is rarely lauded and more often derided. I think he’s right, it’s really a mindset.
Which brings me back to the Lucene.NET guys. Why would they close up shop? Why not continue to donate their time and energy to an excellent cause? Maybe the Microsoft mindset has something to do with it. How about this: a search on google for ‘lucene’ within the weblogs.asp.net domain yields exactly 17 results. The same search on jroller.com yields 2570 results. Admittedly, Lucene has been around longer, but maybe one of the reasons that the Lucene.NET guys packed it up (and are now trying to sell their work) is that no one paid any attention to them because they were all too busy working with SQL Server full-text indexing, a tool given them by Microsoft (but one that costs thousands of dollars per processor). Another reason that a project like Lucene or Struts or Tomcat flourishes is because there is a certain amount of prestige working on a big open source project. If you work on open source projects for the prestige and you’re not getting the attention you think you deserve, you find another motivation. In their case money was a motivation, so they closed up project on sourceforge and they’re selling a personal edition and a business edition. They might make a couple bucks, but I bet in 1 year there won’t be many people writing about searchblackbox.com.
So what’s my point? That all .NET developers are greedy and don’t care about the community? Not really. I think it’s that the two communities have different bus drivers: .NET developers look to Microsoft to provide the tools they need to do their jobs… and if they look elsewhere or copy something else, Microsoft will eventually come in and make a product of their own that does the job, thereby negating any work the developers do in the meantime. Microsoft drives the bus. Java developers look at the products and specs that Sun puts out and then go and build their own tools or frameworks or applications to do the job. Sun will eventually put out something through the JCP that does the job…. but the developers in the Java community will only use it if they want too, witness the continued popularity of Struts and the lack of interest in JSF. In the Java camp, the developers drive the bus.